One of the few stalwarts of the ever-changing Surry Hills restaurant scene, Matsuri Japanese Restaurant has been a reasonably regular haunt of mine for nearly nine years. Restaurant décor has always been minimal, but seems to have declined further in recent times.The excellent value wooden boats laden with sushi and sashimi are the lure, and nurse_nihilist and I are easily caught in their net once more.
It’s generally best to forgo entrees, but a tempting bowl of Agedashi Tofu ($8.50) on the specials menu speaks to my dining companion. The plump deep fried eggplant pieces sit in a lovely sweet broth flavoured with light soy, ground radish and seaweed, garnished with shallots.
I succumb to another special – Zucchini Flower Tempura ($9.50) - and am not disappointed. The baby zucchinis are crisp and sweet, the batter is light.
When our Sushi and Sashimi Combination Boat ($52.50) arrives we struggle to finish the nicely presented sashimi, nigiri sushi, inside-out rolls and nori rolls.
Everything on the boat is fresh and plentiful though not all pieces are matched for easy sharing; it could probably feed three people. My dining companion ends up with a sizable lunch pack of the pieces we couldn't finish, which is very nicely packaged with no complaints by the restaurant staff.
I also note that they’ve gone to no BYO since my last visit, sad considering the bottle shop across the road is actually quite good. Their wine list is small and uninspired, with nearly everything including a 2007 Devil’s Lair Fifth Leg White ($31/bottle, $10/glass) also available by the glass. Food is usually consistent, staff may disappoint. We spent the meal trying to attract the attention of our male waiter, who forgot requests for water, and did not suggest that the entrees may end up being too much with the boat we had pre-ordered. The ambivalent staff means nurse_nihilist is able to drink the BYO moscato minis I bought along anyway, so it's not a dead loss. The now ex-wife Yukako Ichikawa who always used to be brisk yet efficient is a sad loss to the restaurant.
Matsuri Japanese Restaurant
618 Crown St, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9690 1336